Kasb-e-Hunar is a sensory film showing a visual documentation of Shu (woollen cloth) making and short interviews with an elderly artisan community from the villages of Madaklasht and Garam Chashma in Chitral valley. It invites the audience in to engage with the past and present and seeks to provoke conversations about the future and the responsibilities we have, given past mistakes.
The film was made over three weeks of anthropological fieldwork in Shishi Koh and Garam Chashma. The film investigates the cultural significance of woollen craft skills, exploring memories relating to handiwork and the challenges of globalization. It shows the value of traditional skills and indigenous knowledge passed from preceding generations.
Chitral lies in the ‘Pamir Knot’ linking the Wakhan corridor with Afghanistan, Northwest China (Xinjiang) and Tajikistan. These regions have been important for trade and strategy through millennia, from Silk Road trade to current links between China and Pakistan.
The film underlines the importance of skilled hands and the knowledge and wisdom attached to them. It provides local narratives from scholars and community elders, enabling them to communicate and explore themes of nostalgia, memory, tradition, and skill. They talk about how they value craft and skill and how deeply rooted were the traditions of spinning and weaving and other wool work in the folk heritage of Chitral. This generates a sense of nostalgia and yearning for times gone by.
It celebrates their skilled practice and highlights the importance of the local landscape and environment that is rooted in the making of shu (hand woven woollen cloth). From washing the sheep in the local spring water to carding, teasing, spinning and weaving together with all the tools and instruments indicate its own unique technique and vocabulary.